Kentucky’s Annual Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Report Demonstrates Continued Excellence in Quality and Reliability

Electronic reporting helps decrease violations during 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 28, 2021) – Kentucky’s 2020 Drinking Water Compliance Report shows that the Commonwealth’s 433 public water systems consistently produce excellent quality water, and have a high rate of compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements.

The annual report by the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) summarizes compliance data and monitoring results of Kentucky’s public water systems. The systems are required by the SDWA to test produced water regularly for more than 100 contaminants and to take corrective action and notify its customers when a contaminant exceeds standards.

“DOW commends the efforts of public water systems that have collaborated with the division to implement new electronic submittal processes and for compliance assistance efforts that have drastically reduced monitoring and reporting violations.” said DOW Director Carey Johnson. “This annual compliance report demonstrates DOW’s ongoing commitment to providing safe, quality water to the citizens, businesses and industries of the Commonwealth.  It also is an indicator of DOW’s efforts to exceed the goals and expectations outlined in EPA’s National Compliance Initiative for Kentucky, EPA Region 4 and the nation,” “

The annual report shows Kentucky’s public water systems decreased monitoring and reporting violations by 80 percent in 2020. This decrease is attributed to the availability of an electronic submittal process implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic and increased compliance assistance by the DOW, technical assistance partners and the efforts of public water system personnel. 

Since 2016, overall health-based violations have decreased more than 81 percent. These violations are predominately disinfection byproduct rule violations (34) with the remaining eight  violations related to the Surface Water Treatment Rules and the Revised Total Coliform Rule.  No water systems exceeded the federally established limits in 2020 for volatile and synthetic organic compounds or inorganic compounds (VOCs, SOCs or IOCs).

Violations related to disinfection byproducts (DBPs), a class of contaminants that result from the interaction of disinfection chemicals, such as chlorine, with natural organic material in water, constitute 78 percent of all 2020 health-based drinking water violations in Kentucky. The report showed a decrease in these health-based violations, from 118 in 2018 to 49 in 2019 and a further reduction to 33 violations in 2020. The decrease in health-based violations is attributed to efforts by public water systems to reduce DBP issues in challenged systems through the technical support of the DOW, Kentucky Rural Water Association and other external technical assistance partners. 

The increase in health-based violations experienced in 2015 was anticipated due to the implementation of the federal rule for Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs). This rule required “consecutive” public water systems that purchase water from another public water system and re-distribute it to its customers to monitor for and meet recently established standards for DBPs. Those consecutive public water systems previously had been exempted from monitoring for DBPs. Because water age is generally greater in consecutive systems, an overall increase in health-based violations occurred in 2015 and 2016 when consecutive systems came under the DBP rule. Since then, public water systems have addressed and mitigated many of these DBP occurrences. Kentucky’s DBP violations have decreased nearly 86% since the initial increase in violations in 2015 and 2016.

In order to facilitate DOW’s ability to provide technical assistance to public water systems, the division participates in the U.S. EPA’s Area Wide Optimization Program (AWOP). The skills learned through the AWOP are useful to provide targeted technical assistance to public water systems that fail to return to compliance after a notice of violation has been issued. The successful protocols instituted in Kentucky to assist public water systems with DBP violations were developed as a best management practice to be used in the national AWOP program. 

The Kentucky Annual Drinking Water Compliance Report is online:

For more information about the report, contact Alicia Jacobs (